The effect of haptic and ambient temperature experience on prosocial behavior

Dermot Lynott, Katherine S Corker, Louise Connell, Kerry Steven O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Temperature is an ever-present feature of the environment, but we are still unsure how changes in temperature experience affect human behavior. On the one hand, some studies have shown that higher temperature experience is linked with more prosocial behaviors (e.g., greater gift giving, altruism), while on the other hand, some studies have shown that higher temperatures are associated with less prosocial behavior (e.g., more violence, aggression). In this study we investigated whether higher temperatures are associated with more or less prosocial responding. At different ambient temperatures, participants took part in a “product evaluation” study of hot or cold therapeutic gel packs. At the end of the study, each participant could choose between taking a reward for themselves (the self-interested option) or giving the reward to someone else (the prosocial option). While the pack temperatures did not influence the choices people made, we found a weak relationship between the ambient temperatures at the time of the study and whether the participant responded prosocially or not; as temperatures increased, participants were more likely to choose the prosocial option. However, further analysis suggests that this finding should be considered inconclusive and we urge caution in interpreting these results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10–18
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Scientific Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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